After 10 years at the helm of the MBA program, Dean Anjani Jain ('87) is swapping roles with Howard Kaufold of the Executive MBA program to become the new Vice Dean of that program. News of the transition was made public in an email announcement released by the office of Dean Robertson to the student body.Citing the need to maintain excellence in both programs, the announcement lauded the exchange of roles as one that would allow both the MBA and EMBA programs to benefit from the skills of talented executives.
"We have come to this decision after careful deliberation and consultation, with the goal of fostering innovation and cultivating exceptional talent within the School. In our position at the vanguard of management education, it is critical for our MBA programs to be constantly evolving. At the same time, we must have the very best executives in place to run them."
Dean Jain's Career Progression at Wharton
Scroll back to the year 1986 when Dean Jain first arrived on Wharton's campus. A newly minted Ph.D. student, he joined as a professor in what was then known as the Decision Sciences department, now known as OPIM. Many do not know that Dean Jain has spent this many years at Wharton- 24 to be exact. The age of the average Wharton student when Dean Jain began his career at Wharton was 2 or 3. Over the course of the years, Dean Jain held a number of key positions that contributed to Wharton's growth. After beginning as a professor in Decision Sciences (OPIM), he would move on in 1993 to become Director of Academic Affairs, a position similar to Prof. Peggy Bishop Lane's current role. Dean Jain did not anticipate staying in academic administration for long.
"I didn't think it was a path I would pursue for too long," he said. However, 17 years after taking on that initial leadership position, he has become even more entrenched in the leadership team of Wharton.
After serving in that position of Director of Academic Affairs for 6 years, he moved on to another role at the helm of the leadership of Wharton - becoming the Deputy Director and Vice Dean for the MBA program. It was following this position that he took on his most recent role at the top of the MBA program 10 years ago in 2000 as Director and Vice Dean.
Dean Jain Moving On to Head EMBA Program
Behind the ManAlways humble in his speech, Dean Jain is not one to praise himself. Even in speaking with him, I was amused and taken aback that he consistently referred to his accomplishments and path that led him to his current position as "accidents". Raised, as he said in his own words, in small provincial towns of India, the idea of coming to the United States to study was not one that came to mind early on in his life. However it was his acceptance to the prestigious Indian Institute of Management that broadened his horizons. There, his meeting with other ambitious young Indian students encouraged him to enlarge his aspirations.Upon graduating from the Indian Institute of Management, he received a scholarship to begin a Ph.D. program at the University of California, LA (UCLA). This, he said, was an accident that allowed him to come to the US. "Without the scholarship, I would not have been able to come to the US.
"Dean Jain insists that the things that separate us from the average person in the street are the small opportunities that we strike upon and that suddenly give us a degree of credibility above others."
Growing up in a place like India, you realize what separates you from the person selling peanuts on the street is not necessarily innate ability but circumstances of life largely not of your making. These fortunate accidents sometimes end up conferring status on us that is more luminous than our abilities could have achieved.
"Continuing in this vein, he said his acceptance into Wharton as an assistant professor after his Ph.D. which has now allowed him to be at the leadership of the school for 17 years, was another "accident" in a series of events that occured over his life.
Wharton Since 1986
In speaking of Wharton, he said that in fundamental ways it has not changed much since he first arrived 24 years ago. "Wharton has maintained its core culture- a commitment to excellence, rigor, and insistence on high standards." In fact, he says that Wharton has continuously gotten better since he arrived.
Perhaps the most visible change over the years at Wharton is that its student body has gotten increasingly international. The percentage of international students when he came in 1986, while high when compared to other business schools, was about 20%. This pales in comparison to the current rate that has hovered at about 40-45% in recent years. The faculty as well, to some extent reflecting the changing demographics of the student body, has also become increasingly global since his arrival at Wharton.
Reason for Switch
One question that has been in the mind of students is why this shift in leadership occurred and why at the present time.
Dean Jain believes that there is no real optimal time for the switch to have occurred. However he believes that the switch will allow both himself and Dean Kaufold to bring fresh insights to the challenges faced by both the MBA and EMBA programs.
Some of these challenges include enhancing our position as the global leader in bu siness education as the locus of rapid economic growth continues to shift to emerging economies. Because of this shift, he states that it is becoming increasingly important to provide our students with a business education that is global and that is reflective of the changing dynamics of the world.
At the same time, as the MBA has spread and become more popular across the world, one of the areas in which it has seen the strongest growth is in the executive MBA format. Thus Dean Jain believes that given the changes occurring in the global landscape and in the world of business education, now is a good time to start addressing serious questions about the content and footprint of our programs and finding innovative ways to create global educational opportunities for our students. This switch in leadership he believes will allow Wharton to be able to do that.
Praising the EMBA program for being one of the top in its class, Dean Jain says one of his main goals will be to maintain the extraordinary quality and caliber of the program. In addition, he hopes to find ways to give students a richer set of global learning experiences and experiment with the use of technology to connect our various student populations better. Furthermore, as both the EMBA and MBA program attract a great pool of candidates, he hopes to find ways to better create linkages across the programs.
Despite the switch in leadership, Dean Jain will still be around. Moving just a couple of floors down from the MBA Program Office suite on the 3rd floor to the EMBA offices on the first floor, he will continue to be a presence in the building. He insists that he will still be around and that he will continue to "inflict himself upon us in the classroom" should "Peggy allow" him to do so.
We wish Dean Jain the best of luck as he moves on to this new position. Our only request though is that he continue to attend MBA events and be present at our graduation ceremony in May.